October’s PhenomeMOMs have been such an inspiration! From triumphs over the NICU, to dealing with loss, turning pain into purpose, and finding the humor in it all, these extraordinary moms have shown us all what it means to be phenomenal in motherhood. I was motivated by the PhenomeMOMs and convinced by last week’s PhenomeMOM Valerie to share my own story. I’m thankful to everyone who has encouraged me to continue sharing my story. If you missed it, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 here.
I remember being carried into my parents bedroom. I remember calling out to people and thanking them for being so annoying when I was pregnant because it helped me to focus during labor. I remember thanking people for praying for me. I remember repeating “I get it,” over and over. I remember telling the EMT’s to check my blood sugar, and I remember it all going black again.
I woke up in the back of an ambulance, my mother weeping as they rushed me to the hospital. I couldn’t understand how I had gotten there. I thought I was dreaming.
The hospital checked my vital signs, but couldn’t find anything wrong with me. I assured them that I was fine. Although I knew who I was, and where I was, I couldn’t figure out why I was there. As the doctor questioned me, I started to untwist my shoulder length dreadlocks. By the end of the day, they would be gone.
The hospital agreed to release me, as I seemed perfectly fine. When my husband arrived at home, he found me laughing on Facebook. Things were off, but no one knew how to approach the topic. We dealt with it through laughter.The next few days would be rough, but things slowly began to return to normal. I began seeing a therapist my friend recommended to explore the reason behind my breakdown.
The therapist explained that my body was in shock, my mind was tired, and my system crumbled under all of the stress. I had suffered an episode of postpartum psychosis,which occurs in approximately 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 deliveries. Symptoms of postpartum psychosis include:
- Delusions or strange beliefs
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
- Feeling very irritated
- Decreased need for or inability to sleep
- Paranoia and suspiciousness
- Rapid mood swings
- Difficulty communicating at times
I felt crazy. If anyone found out, they’d think I was crazy, too. People would whisper and gossip. They’d think that I wanted to hurt my baby. They’d say I was weak and couldn’t handle motherhood, or worse, they’d take my son away from me. I was so afraid.
Over sessions, we discussed my fears. At the root of it all, I was angry and depressed. I’d been suppressing my feelings, wearing a mask of happiness and perfection while the truth simmered just below the surface–but now, I was fighting back.
I stayed home with my baby and continued therapy for the rest of the year. I tried to go to new mom groups, but depression and fear of being judged by other moms held me back from social settings. As the year went on, I began to open up. I started addressing problems head on instead of squelching my anger. I began to rely more fully on my faith, and I began to live again.
Soon after The DJ’s first birthday, I found out I was pregnant again. I worried about another episode. This time, I spoke up. I told my husband that I would need him now more than ever. I asked him to help me. Unashamed, I told him how scared I was. He calmed my fears and assured me that this time, we’d make it through together.
After a month of bed rest because of early contractions, The Emcee made his debut a day and a half after I returned to work. I actually felt the contractions this time. Thankfully, everything went well. There were no NICU visits, no complications, and no postpartum depression and no postpartum psychosis. I felt like I had finally gotten a handle on life.
I decided to start Mymommyvents in 2014, because I didn’t want another mother to have to feel the pain I felt. According to medscape.com, 85% of women experience some type of mood disturbance postpartum. If the events that I host or the posts on this website help just one mother, then my episode wasn’t in vain.
For more information on postpartum depression and psychosis, please visit the following websites:
There are so many mothers who will never share their story, but I hope mine has touched you in some way.